NEW YORK CITY — Toll booths in the city will be removed in favor of automatic systems that will feature artwork and turn crossings like the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge into "international tourist attractions."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the plan Wednesday to "reimagine" the city's bridges and tunnels by adding automatic tolling, installing new security equipment and adding flood barriers to tunnels — as well as installing color-changing LED lights.
"By investing in New York's transportation network today and equipping it to meet the challenges of tomorrow, we are cementing our state's position as a national leader in 21st century infrastructure and cutting-edge innovation," Cuomo said in a statement.
"From speeding up commutes and reducing emissions on key roadways with automatic tolling to bolstering resiliency on our bridges and tunnels and increasing security at key checkpoints, this transformational project will revolutionize transportation in New York and ensure that our state is built to lead for generations to come."
As part of the project, the MTA will remove the toll booths at Henry Hudson Bridge, Whitestone Bridge, Throgs Neck Bridge, RFK Triborough Bridge, Queens Midtown Tunnel, Hugh L. Carey Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge and Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge and replace them with automatic toll structures.
The automatic tolls will use sensors and cameras to read E-ZPass tags or license plates so drivers won't have to stop, Cuomo said. Drivers without E-Zpass will be mailed a bill for the tolls.
The project will also build new "wave" like artwork over the automatic tolling spots out of a chain mail fabric that will move with the wind, Cuomo said.
The MTA will add LED lights to bridges and tunnels starting in January and start a new "The City That Never Sleep" multi-color light show at night that Cuomo hopes will lure tourists from around the world to view the city's transportation infrastructure.
The changes will start to go in place in January and the work's expected to be finished by the end of next year.
The plan outlined by Cuomo also includes installing new barriers to block floodwaters from entering tunnels, making seismic upgrades to make MTA bridges more flexible and adding additional security equipment like facial recognition software.